Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million adults aged 18 and older in the United States each year. This is equal to a little over 18% of the population, making it the most common mental health issue in the country. Researchers have found that anxiety disorders run in families, arising from genetics and varying and complex risk factors like brain chemistry and significant life events. Sometimes, health conditions can also trigger an anxiety disorder.
People with anxiety disorders face a mix of physical and emotional symptoms. These include agitation, chest pain, feelings of helplessness and nervousness, rapid heart beats, and tension. Thankfully, anxiety disorders are treatable with the help of medicines and therapy. There are also plenty of natural ways to help ease the symptoms. Here are some of them.
Know and Avoid Triggers
One of the most natural, no-medication ways of easing anxiety symptoms is knowing what triggers them. Take note of patterns and other indicators, and then write them down in a journal or even in your phone’s notepad app. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it can help you remember such patterns. If you know what causes your anxiety symptoms and when they trigger, you can find more effective ways to avoid them. You can also work on healthier ways to cope with and confront feelings like excessive worry and panic.
CBD or cannabidiol is derived from the cannabis (marijuana) plant and has been the subject of various studies related to anxiety and depression. Through years of research, CBD has been found to have properties that alleviate anxiety, panic, and similar symptoms. It also doesn’t cause a “high” unlike tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, another cannabis derivative.
The best CBD for anxiety is arguably in the form of oil, as it’s usually more concentrated and can produce results more quickly. However, you can also consume CBD in the form of edibles like candies for a more discreet way of dosing. If you live in a state where medical marijuana is already legalized, your doctor may also prescribe pills or CBD oil for anxiety.
Meditation, Breathing and Relaxation Exercises
A 2010 study has found that meditation can help address the symptoms of anxiety disorders and other health issues that affect one’s mood. Moreover, meditation is also helpful in calming the mind when it gets “overactive” with negative thoughts. Progressive relaxation exercises techniques can also help with physical symptoms. Some people with anxiety deal with it through unconscious and minute physical responses like clenching the jaw. Relaxation exercises can help ease this kind of tension. Finally, breathing exercises can also help the mind and body to feel more at ease. Breathe in through your nose, ensuring that your belly expands and your chest rises only a little. Then, slowly exhale through your mouth. You know you’re doing it right if your breath whooshes on its way out. If you can, lie down to perform breathing exercises to maximize the effects.
Spend Some Time with Animals
Studies have shown that taking care of pets has a positive psychological effect, especially on people dealing with mental health issues. Animals like dogs and cats can offer companionship and affection, which in turn help reduce negative emotions. Spending time with animals has also been found to reduce trauma-induced anxiety and stress. A good thing to know, especially for those with allergies, is that the animal doesn’t necessarily have to be a traditional pet. You can also opt to visit shelters and rescue centers first, if you feel like you aren’t ready yet to have a pet of your own.
Get Warm and Cozy
Sinking into a hot, fragrant bath after a tiring day. Spending some time in the sauna. Sunbathing on the beach. Drinking a warm cup of tea. Curling up by a roaring fire. What do these relaxing activities have in common? They all involve heat. Warming your body up has been found to affect the neural pathways that control your mood, releasing serotonin and triggering positive emotions. Maybe that’s why it’s called a “warm, fuzzy feeling.”
Research suggests that expressing anxiety through journaling, creative writing, and similar activities can help manage anxiety symptoms. This is especially true for children and adolescents with anxiety. Finding an “outlet” that works best for you can help ease the burden of dealing with negative thoughts.
Remember: anxiety disorders are treatable. Consult a mental health professional to get an accurate diagnosis and get the most suitable treatments.